Coal threat to Reef gets international attention

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Feature Story - 6 January, 2013
The threat to the Great Barrier Reef from massive coal port developments has been featured on French television, in a sign of growing international concern for the future of the world’s largest coral reef.

The ten minute news report includes interviews with fishermen in Gladstone Harbour who blame dredging of coal and gas shipping channels for the outbreak of fish-disease that has cost them their livelihoods. The program also shows what’s at stake at Abbot Point, further north, where there are plans to dredge 184 hectares of sea-bed to allow ship access to three new coal export terminals.

A report on the Abbot Point dredging proposal released a few days ago shows that the developers plan to dig up 3 million cubic metres of sea-bed and dump it in the ocean just 8km from Holbourne Island National Park in the spectacular Whitsundays. It’s frightening to think the same problems we’ve seen in Gladstone could be repeated in such a world-famous tourist destination. The dredging will create a muddy sediment plume over hundreds of hectares of ocean, and deposit silt over seagrass beds that turtles and dugongs rely on for food. It also threatens the waters of Cape Upstart National Park to the north-west of Abbot Point.

Australia has until 1 February to report to the World Heritage Committee about its implementation of their request that we not permit development that would impact on the Reef’s outstanding universal value. The Committee also requested that Australia commission an independent review of the management of Gladstone harbour.

So, watch this video from French TV to judge for yourself whether Australia is protecting the Great Barrier Reef from the threat of coal, then send an email to Australian Environment Minister Tony Burke, and urge him to stop the Great Barrier Reef from becoming a coal superhighway.